In Memoriam: Sorry Sean

Gary Nelson
5 min read
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I first met Sean over 25 years ago when I first started going by the Dingo Bar. He was a likable character. A bit self-deprecating at times. Sometimes he played the part of a character from A Confederacy of Dunces, but in actuality, he was extremely intelligent. He constantly referred to himself as a ne’er-do-well and could hold court for hours with tales that confirmed his opinion of himself. In the end, you would always find yourself shaking your head, wondering what had happened in life to make this man drop out and seek an alternative way of living.

He told me one day that he had been an engineer, but got tired of his salary going to his multiple ex-wives. I never passed judgment on him for it; I would just think about what a character he was now. I actually knew very little about him at the time, other than he seemed like an interesting person. As George Roman from the Anodyne posted, he was a big shot building inspector for the city at one time. He had seen the picture that Kenny Ray had that showed him on top of the Hyatt Hotel when it was being built. I had also seen the picture at the Dingo. I was always wondering how a person like him could go up to the top of a very, very tall structure and not experience some type of fear.

Sean was a handyman. He would come by my house looking for work, and sometimes I was able to give him some. Putting windows in. Planting a cacti garden in my backyard. Running errands. He was willing to do whatever it took. Sometimes he would do things I hadn’t requested and then look at me with the expectation that he wanted to be paid. He had a job with some concrete testing company that allowed him to drive the company pickup. One day he showed up with the pickup, and in the bed of the truck was a rather large rock that weighed about 150 pounds. He thought it would look good in my front yard. He backed the truck onto the yard and pushed the rock off. He then looked at me and said, “So what do you think. About 50 dollars for the rock?” Of course, speaking of the front yard, I paid him one time to bag up all the wood chips that covered the front yard. I wanted to replace them with gravel. He charged me for bagging them and for a fee to take them to the dump. Later I discovered that he had taken them down to the rear of the Gold Street Caffé and dumped them out of the bags in front of their back door. Later, when the café opened, he went by and told them he was looking for some work. They paid him to bag up the chips and carry them away. I also remember letting him housesit for me when I went to New Orleans. He invited some people over to the house. They owned a bed and breakfast place just off Central on Walter, and he told them that he was going to cook them some Cajun food I had showed him how to cook. He told me they really like it. He had eaten some of the Cajun food I cooked, but I didn’t show him how to cook anything. Later he told me that he had cooked some Zatarain’s food that comes in a box. I couldn’t help but laugh.

Sean constantly drew things. Kimo recently posted some of the things that he drew for her. A lot of people posted that they have something he drew somewhere; they just couldn’t remember where. So do I. He also painted the wall near the Dingo with a map of things he considered important in Albuquerque. Likewise, he painted the wall of Garcia’s on Central with a map-like painting of Route 66. None of those remain. Funny, I always smiled when I saw those paintings but never took a picture of them. Wish I had those pictures now. Several people have posted that they have a picture of him somewhere but can’t find it. Sean, the anonymous man that everyone Downtown seemed to know.

So it has been over a week since Sean died. Every morning when I wake up, I go online to look at the obituary column in the
Journal. Haven’t seen it yet. I realized that you have to pay for that, and I am not sure anyone in his family would have paid for it. I think about how he is probably laying in a cold locker down at the Office of the Medical Investigator while they wait to see if someone is going to claim his body. I think you have to be related to him to do so. I don’t really know. But by far, the thing that bothers me the most is that I can’t remember Sean’s full name. I searched my mind repeatedly, went online and asked whether anyone else knew his name, and even looked on the New Mexico Courts website to see if I could trace down his name. I can’t find anything. So, when I say, “Sorry Sean,” it is only because I can’t remember your name. I do remember your fame.

Your friend,


Roger Alan Hall (aka ne’er-do-well Uncle Sean) was born in 1946 and at one point worked as a building inspector for the city. As an artist he had a unique vision and passion for promoting and celebrating Downtown Albuquerque, the landscape he often painted and roamed. He delighted in mischief and mocked authority, mysteriously teetering between homelessness and splendor. Now he’s gone, survived by two sons, Stewart and Lucas, and thousands of people whose lives he touched, often without permission. He will be missed more than he ever knew.

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